Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

In the Media

Waking the Dead

Reconstruction of the prehistoric man Inuk. Drawing: Nuka Godfredtsen

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen have recreated the genome of a 4000-year-old Greenlandic man from genetic material found in tufts of his hair. They are the first to reconstruct the genome of an extinct human being.  

The innovative technique can be applied to museum materials and ancient remains found in nature and may help scientists reconstruct human traits from extinct cultures where only limited remains have been recovered. Scientists also may use the technique to explain ancient human expansions and migration; it also may improve understanding of heredity and the disease risk passed down from our ancestors. The study is published in the upcoming issue of Nature

P-p-p-poker Flat, P-p-p-poker Flat 

Launch season got underway at Poker Flat Research Range near Fairbanks, Alaska, this week, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported on Tuesday. “The 2010 launch season began when a two-stage Terrier Orion rocket carrying 16 vials of trimethyl alumimum [sic] was fired into the upper atmosphere at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Twelve of the vials were released, causing colorful, glowing streaks in the atmospheric winds about 70 miles above northern Alaska.” 

CPS team member, SRI's Todd Valentic, took this picture of a rocket launch at Poker Flat in 2007. With NSF funding, SRI developed a next-generation radar system at the site, which can be used to collect information from the rocket soundings. For more on SRI's cutting edge radars, click on the picture.

Scientists at Poker Flat, Toolik Field Station, and Fort Yukon collected ground-based information from the tracers streaking the sky after the rocket fired its vials. 

The rocket range, owned by the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute, allows scientists to study the middle and upper atmosphere, especially the aurora. Dartmouth’s James LaBelle leads the rocket-borne experiments. 

Ned Rozell wrote about the Poker Flat launches a while back. Read his piece to understand what it takes—and why scientists love the rockets.

Polarpower in Solar

Tracy Dahl’s white paper on photovoltaic power options in cold climes has been published in the new journal Solar. Tracy originally published the piece on the CPS sustainable power technology Web site, polarpower.org. Congratulations, Tracy!

Global Darkening 

We really enjoyed Jon Stewart’s send-up of the flap over last week’s snowstorms by climate-change deniers. 

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-february-10-2010/unusually-large-snowstorm  

On a related note, see this New York Times opinion piece by Thomas Friedman.